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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - The Progressives CD (album) cover

THE PROGRESSIVES

Various Artists (Label Samplers)

 

Various Genres

4.81 | 2 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Usually label samplers have a few interesting songs and then the rest is just filler. This is not the case with this Columbia double LP from the early 70s. Almost every song on here is a complete gem full of high energy performances and very unique compositions. In the early 70s many talented performers and composers with backgrounds in rock and jazz began to merge these two idioms with the exploratory nature of 20th century concert hall music. The end result, as this record shows, was an infinite variety of sounds, structures and improvisations.

Some of the album's highlights include Knots by Gentle Giant, an amazing piece that mixes pre-classical and 20th century composition with heavy progressive rock and avant - garde jazz. The song has a tight structure that doesn't waste a note in it's deliberate unfolding. On Marchides, Matching Mole displays their odd take on jazz rock with a middle section that consists of a repeating whole tone pattern on electric piano topped by a bass solo.

On Unknown Soldier, Weather Report shows how they were a lot more interesting in the earlier part of their career. Gregorian vocals alternate with Stravinsky meets Herbie Hancock horn and reed lines till they are interrupted by ominous warning sirens ala Edgar Varese. The whole song is driven by an understated but restless free jazz double time rhythm and has a middle section that allows Wayne Shorter to really go off.

Sundance by Keith Jarrett is a particularly fun and energetic piece by this often dour and introspective pianist. On this cut he gives us rock influenced free jazz somewhat similar to Miles at the Fillmore. The amazing rhythm section of Paul Motion and Charley Haden, as well as the energetic guitar work of Sam Brown help add to the kinetic and almost chaotic atmosphere. Jump Monk features Charles Mingus leading a free wheeling avant big band through a great Cab Calloway meets film noir old school jazz tune that is totally infectious in it's good time grooves.

Other highlights include Ornette Coleman playing beautifully stark melodies backed by his own orchestrations, Don Ellis playing big band party funk in odd meters and Wendy Carlos' neo-classical composition played entirely on the Moog.

The only song that doesn't measure up is Haida by Paul Horn. It sounds like he is in a cove full of Dolphins and playing new age flute melodies while the Dolphins squeak and squawk and plead with him to leave them alone.

I highly recommend this album. This is early 70s progressive rock and jazz at it's very best.

js (Easy Money) | 5/5 |

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